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Premier League relegation battle: Who will survive the drop?

The battle to stay in the Premier League has never been closer. Just six points separate 11th placed Watford and Southampton in 18th.

Baring a collapse of epic proportions, the title is going to Manchester City. While the battle for the top four provides some excitement, the real drama is happening in the bottom half of the table. We take a look at the teams fighting to avoid relegation and predict who will go down.

Watford (11th, 30 points)

Form

Watford sacked manager Marco Silva on the 21st of January citing Everton’s interest as the reason for his dismissal. They appointed Javi Gracia on the same day and results have improved since then. In the two games under Gracia’s leadership, they are unbeaten. The Hornets drew with Stoke before pulling off one of the results of the season with a 4-1 win against reigning champions Chelsea.

Next five games

West Ham (A), Everton (H), West Brom (H), Arsenal (A), Liverpool (A)

Why they can survive the drop

Javi Gracia has made a good start to life as Watford manager and has galvanised a team that hadn’t won since Boxing Day before his arrival. Watford have plenty of goalscorers in their team and that will prove crucial in tight games.

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West Ham United (12th, 27 points)

Form

David Moyes’s appointment was not well received but it has been good for West Ham so far.  The Hammers have picked up valuable points against Spurs, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace in January as well as wins against Huddersfield and West Brom. Before last weekend’s loss against Brighton, West Ham had not tasted defeat in the league since December against Newcastle.

Next five games

Watford (H), Liverpool (A), Swansea (A), Burnley (H) Man Utd (H)

Why they can survive the drop

The players have responded well to David Moyes’ methods, none more so than Marko Arnautovic. He should return from injury this weekend which would be a huge boost for Moyes. West Ham have recently signed experienced Premier League defender Patrice Evra on a free transfer and Moyes is prepared to throw him straight in.

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Brighton & Hove Albion (13th, 27 points)

Form

Brighton were on a difficult run of form before a win against West Ham gave them some much-needed confidence. In January, the Seagulls were unlucky to suffer a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Chelsea as they were denied two penalties. They bounced back to get a point against Southampton and then beat West Ham 3-1 with an excellent performance.

Next five games

Stoke (A), Swansea (H), Arsenal (H), Everton (A), Man City (A)

Why they can survive the drop

They have some top quality players such as Jose Izquierdo and Pascal Gross. Despite a poor run of form, Brighton play with an energy and confidence that is refreshing to see. Glenn Murray is still banging in the goals at 34 with manager Chris Houghton saying that his superb form could mean new signings Jurgen Locadia and Leonardo Ulloa have to be content with a place on the bench.

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Crystal Palace (14th, 27 points)

Form

After the first seven games, it seemed Crystal Palace were consigned to relegation. However, the controversial decision to sack Frank de Boer after just four games has paid off. Roy Hodgson has come in and turned things around for Palace. They look nothing like the team they were at the start of the season and that is solely down to Hodgson. Despite a heavy 4-1 defeat against Arsenal, they bounced back with two 1-1 draws against West Ham and Newcastle.

Next five games

Everton (A), Spurs (H), Man Utd (H), Chelsea (A), Huddersfield (A)

Why they can survive the drop

Wilfried Zaha. He has just been ruled out for a month but his importance to this Crystal Palace cannot be underestimated. In his absence, the likes of Andros Townsend, Yohan Cabaye and Christian Benteke must prove their worth. It says a lot that Palace’s current top scorer is midfielder Luka Milivojevic with six goals while striker Benteke has managed just to score just two goals this season. Hodgson will continue his remarkable turnaround of Palace despite injuries to key players. Keeping Zaha fit upon his return will be crucial, as will keeping him at the club in the summer.

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Southampton (15th, 26 points)

Form

Before their win against West Brom last weekend, Southampton had not got three points in a league match since November against Everton. They were on the end of heavy defeats against Spurs and Leicester City and, during that time, drew five matches with a 1-1 scoreline. Mauricio Pellegrino hasn’t given the fans much to shout about in terms of entertaining football. While they have recently moved out of the bottom three, there is still work to do.

Next five games

Liverpool (H), Burnley (A), Stoke (H), Newcastle (A), Swansea (A)

Why they can survive the drop

Jack Stephens has been great at the back for Southampton in recent weeks and scored in consecutive league games for the first time in his career against Brighton and West Brom. He’s one in a long line of talented players that Southampton’s academy has produced. Midfielder Mario Lemina is another gem that Southampton have uncovered while James Ward-Prowse’s set-piece deliveries deserve a mention. They are Premier League quality.

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Newcastle United (16th, 25 points)

Form

Despite all the off-field issues, Newcastle have still managed to get results on the pitch. Benitez didn’t get the signings he wanted in January but Kenedy and Islam Slimani should prove to be good acquisitions, all be it on loan. Their last two results were 1-1 draws and they should have got three points from the match against Crystal Palace.

Next five games

Man Utd (H), Bournemouth (A), Liverpool (A), Southampton (H), Spurs (A)

Why they can survive the drop

I’m not sure they can. After their next five games, Newcastle could be firmly in the bottom three. The Magpies’ squad just doesn’t have enough quality and is filled with Championship players. If they do get relegated, I can’t see Rafa Benitez sticking around for another season in the second tier.

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Swansea City (17th, 24 points)

Form

Swansea have moved out of the bottom three thanks to stunning and well-deserved wins against Liverpool and Arsenal. Carlos Carvalhal has come in and given fans renewed hope that the Swans can escape relegation once more.

Next five games

Burnley (H), Brighton (A), West Ham (H), Huddersfield (A), Southampton (H)

Why they can survive the drop

Sam Clucas and Alfie Mawson are some of the players who have been revitalised under Carvalhal’s leadership. He has galvanised a team that seemed destined for the drop and should continue to do so until the end of the season. Re-signing Andre Ayew will provide more firepower up front, especially with Wilfried Bony out for the rest of the season.

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Stoke City (18th, 24 points)

Form

Stoke are another team to have sacked their manager this season. Paul Lambert has taken over from Mark Hughes and started well, beating Huddersfield and drawing with Watford before defeat against Bournemouth.

Next five games

Brighton (H), Leicester (A), Southampton (A), Man City (H),Everton (H)

Why they can survive the drop

Stoke must tighten up defensively. They have shipped 52 goals in 26 matches – an average of two per game. However, their January signings could prove to be good acquisitions. Badou Ndiaye impressed Lambert on his debut and Moritz Bauer looks a good signing at right-back. Xherdan Shaqiri is enjoying a good run of form under Lambert. The new manager bounce could also be a factor for the Potters.

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Huddersfield Town (19th, 24 points)

Form

Five consecutive defeats have left Huddersfield in the bottom three. They haven’t won a match since the 4-1 victory against Watford in mid-December. Defeats to Liverpool and Man Utd were more or less expected, but they were just not good enough against the likes of fellow relegation strugglers West Ham and Stoke.

Next five games

Bournemouth (H), West Brom (A), Spurs (A), Swansea (H), Crystal Palace (H)

Why they can survive the drop

In my opinion, they can’t. Huddersfield started the season well but they have run out of steam and it is hard to see them finding form to save them from relegation.

Just like Middlesbrough last season, they may be unable to get out of the downward spiral and they don’t score enough goals. It’s not looking good for the Terriers.

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West Bromwich Albion (20th, 20 points)

Form

The Baggies have lost three of their last five league games and despite sacking Tony Pulis and hiring Alan Pardew, there has not been much improvement in results. Pardew has at least got West Brom playing more attacking football but they still need to string a good run of results together.

Next five games

Chelsea (A), Southampton (H), Huddersfield (H), Watford (A), Leicester (H)

Why they can survive the drop

It seems unlikely that West Brom will be in the Premier League again next season. Before they won at Brighton in January, they had not enjoyed a league win since August. They signed Daniel Sturridge on loan which was a great bit of business but they can’t depend solely on him – they can’t even be sure if he will be fit.

Keeping Jonny Evans seems good for now but he can leave for £3m if they are relegated.

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Teams predicted to go down:

It’s going to be a fascinating finale, with ultimately any one of the teams above capable of staying up, or indeed going down. But in my opinion, this year, it will be time to say goodbye to Newcastle United, Huddersfield Town and West Bromwich Albion.

Do you agree? Disagree? Leave us your thoughts below

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